As the year 2015 comes to a close, we take a look at some of the most insightful and incisive editorials that created a buzz. We can guarantee that these op-eds made for the best reading in the pages of the Indian Express.
1. Death by a thousand cuts
Noted academic and historian Ramachandra Guha wrote on Smriti Zubin Irani, India’s Union Minister for Human Resource and Development (HRD), who became one of the youngest cabinet ministers in 2014 after the Lok Sabha elections. Guha explains why Irani, even a year after her appointment, remains the most controversial minister in the Modi cabinet.
“Stories of her arrogance and rudeness are legion. Her own senior officials have sought transfers to other ministries because they have found it impossible to work with her,” he wrote. Read more.
2. Why I am returning my award
Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy shared her perspective in the pages of the Indian Express on the raging Sahitya Akademi crisis. Writers across languages in the country were returning their awards to protest ‘rising intolerance’ and targeting of litterateurs by the government. Roy, who has also won a National Award for best screenplay in 1989, explained why she was returning her award.
“It doesn’t matter whether we agree or disagree with what is being said. If we do not have the right to speak freely, we will turn into a society that suffers from intellectual malnutrition, a nation of fools,” she wrote. Read more.
3. PM has gone from bully pulpit to counsel for defence
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a contributing editor to the Indian Express, writes regular columns on various issues. This op-ed focusing on the Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech created a lot of discussion on social media platforms.
“The Prime Minister is still immensely popular, head and shoulders above any rival. But the credibility question has arisen against the backdrop of two facts: his own promises, and a sense of a little drift in government. An Independence Day Speech is not a Report Card on Government; it is as, the Prime Minister put it, “a dawn of new dreams, and new resolve.” Nevertheless even dreams and resolve need to be credible,” wrote Mehta. Read more.
4. India-Nepal relations: Himalayan blunder
One of PM Modi’s biggest strengths that he has displayed to a great extent over the past one year is on the foreign diplomacy front. His handling of US and China were greatly appreciated by pundits. But when it came to Nepal, India’s foreign diplomacy has gone totally wrong, writes Tunku Varadarajan.
“Modi, an avowedly Hindu politician, has managed to lose the love of a Hindu country, the only neighbouring country with which India has open borders. The destruction of ties with Nepal has to rank as an impressive display of incompetence,” he wrote. Read more.
5. Yakub’s ghost
Perhaps no other story got as much prominence in the national media this year than the Supreme Court order on Yakub Memon, the man convicted for orchestrating deadly blasts in Mumbai in 1993, and his eventual execution in July. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, once again, writes an incisive piece shortly after the execution on the impact of Yakub’s execution on Indian democracy and its social fabric.
“Indian democracy will suffer from the shadow of the debate generated by Yakub Memon’s death sentence. The debate exposed barely concealed faultlines. It is a warning about the brittleness of the social fabric, which may be one accident away from cracking. It revealed just how much of our identities as citizens is constituted by sediments of resentment, suspicion and frustration,” he wrote. Read more.
6. ‘As a Christian, suddenly I am a stranger in my own country’
Before India started debating intolerance, former top cop Julio Ribeiro‘s piece mentioned how there was a sense of siege afflicting many peaceful people. “It is tragic that these extremists have been emboldened beyond permissible limits by an atmosphere of hate and distrust. The Christian population, a mere 2 per cent of the total populace, has been subjected to a series of well-directed body blows. If these extremists later turn their attention to Muslims, which seems to be their goal, they will invite consequences that this writer dreads to imagine,” he wrote in a much discussed piece in March. Read more